Reviews, May 2008

Chequered Conflict
The inside story on two explosive F1 world championships
Maurice Hamilton

Fascinating, horrible, thrilling, crazy, disturbing and unmissable: that was Grand Prix 2007. It’s a familiar tale, of course, and is still fresh in the memory. But no one has told it better or more incisively than Maurice Hamilton.

As a first-hand account it cannot be bettered. But that’s not all. Pushing beyond the usual review format, Hamilton has set himself an original and ambitious challenge – and meets it head-on.

I had my doubts. Weaving between two seasons 21 years apart – 1986 and 2007 – could have been clunky, but to Hamilton’s credit, it isn’t. The basic parallels are of four drivers going for the world title, a bitter team-mate rivalry that costs both the crown and a stealthy rival who pinches it at the last. It all fits. The effect is to emphasise how much has changed – and how very little hasn’t.

What I particularly enjoyed here was Hamilton’s portrait of Ron Dennis during a season that could be described as his downfall. This complex man sparked sympathy, anger and resentment among the British press corps during 2007. Exactly why is all in this book. And in my opinion, it’s spot on. DS

Published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978 1 84737 268 0, £17.99

The Top 100
F1 Drivers Of All Time
Alan Henry

As he acknowledges, Alan Henry is asking for trouble here. It’s subjective, and perhaps futile, stuff to draw up such lists. But good on him for sticking his neck out.

Ignore ‘F1 drivers’ in the title – it should read ‘GP drivers’, because pre-1950 stars are included. Nuvolari, Rosemeyer and Caracciola are all well placed as they should be, but where are Boillot, Nazzaro and Segrave? Yep, it’s subjective alright!

It feels like it’s been dashed off at speed, but still it’s an irresistible little book and never takes itself too seriously. Just like the author. DS

Published by Icon Books, ISBN 978 1 84046 894 6, £14.99

Gentleman Jack
Graham Gauld

Look up any race report from the 1950s or ’60s and the name J Sears will likely be there. Saloons, sports cars or vintage, Sears raced it, and often won. Ken Gregory asked him to join the Yeoman Credit team, but he decided single-seaters were a risk too far. That sums him up: racing was a passion, but his real business was farming. However, as this entertaining book makes clear, his good manners concealed a grit that made him a tough racer. As well as quotes from Sears and his peers the book bulges with photos, many personal, plus results tables, but chiefly some lovely tales from a vanished era. GC

Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 84584 151 5, £24.99

Ferrari Argentina
Cristián Bertschi & Estanislao Iacona

Having already listed all the significant Alfas that went to Argentina, moving on to Ferraris was an obvious step. It’s an amazing piece of research, tracing the history of the many Ferraris which have passed through the country. Costly but lavish, it may help to clarify some of the chassis which have emerged “from South America”… For the rest of us it’s a great picture book showing many one-off body shapes you might not have seen before. The most remarkable thing is that having got sports cars out of the way the team is working on single-seaters. And there’s Maserati to come! GC

Published by Whitefly, ISBN 978 9 87236 881 4, £88